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Handb Clin Neurol. 2015;129:573-87. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-62630-1.00032-9.

Auditory agnosia.

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Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA.


Auditory agnosia refers to impairments in sound perception and identification despite intact hearing, cognitive functioning, and language abilities (reading, writing, and speaking). Auditory agnosia can be general, affecting all types of sound perception, or can be (relatively) specific to a particular domain. Verbal auditory agnosia (also known as (pure) word deafness) refers to deficits specific to speech processing, environmental sound agnosia refers to difficulties confined to non-speech environmental sounds, and amusia refers to deficits confined to music. These deficits can be apperceptive, affecting basic perceptual processes, or associative, affecting the relation of a perceived auditory object to its meaning. This chapter discusses what is known about the behavioral symptoms and lesion correlates of these different types of auditory agnosia (focusing especially on verbal auditory agnosia), evidence for the role of a rapid temporal processing deficit in some aspects of auditory agnosia, and the few attempts to treat the perceptual deficits associated with auditory agnosia. A clear picture of auditory agnosia has been slow to emerge, hampered by the considerable heterogeneity in behavioral deficits, associated brain damage, and variable assessments across cases. Despite this lack of clarity, these striking deficits in complex sound processing continue to inform our understanding of auditory perception and cognition.


amusia; auditory agnosia; environmental sound agnosia; pure word deafness; rapid temporal processing; speech perception deficits

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